“Which is better… 1 or 2?… A or B? Now is this one better… or is it worse?”
After about ten minutes of eyes straining at the chart, trying to decide which answer to give, hoping he wasn’t giving me trick questions, I settled back into my chair and waited for the eye doctor’s results.
“Well, the vision in your left eye is improving, so I’ll have to readjust the power in that lens.”
“Did you say improving?”
After almost sixty years of hearing the bad news that my lenses would be getting thicker and thicker, there was hope! He told me it was one of the benefits of aging, nearsighted eyes. They do improve.
Unfortunately, according to the rate I was going, he said I’d have to live to be more than 5,000 years old before I could throw away my glasses! Oh well. Just add that to the growing list of things I have to admit my body will never be able to do. Some things just will never get completely better.
Technology has given us many improvements over the years, especially in communication and transportation. Until the telegraph came along, news could never travel faster than the speediest person or horse. Until just recently in human history, even getting from one place to another depended on the power of that trusty steed. Maybe that’s why some things today are still measured in “horse power.”
Faster and easier doesn’t necessarily mean better, though. Today I can communicate just by pressing or clicking on a screen, but it’s not the same as being face to face with someone dear to me. I remember tasting the first instant potatoes my mother served. I knew they were saving her preparation time, but I missed the taste of the real thing.
I have always been fascinated by home improvements, turning an ugly or just ho-hum room or house into something elegant or more welcoming. I especially enjoy creating a transformation with those minor touches… paint and a little extra trim.
The first house we owned needed a little pizzazz, so we added crown molding to one of our bedrooms, with the help of a carpenter, of course. I thought it looked great, but he couldn’t help commenting that there wasn’t one 90-degree corner in the whole room. In fact, he checked our hallways and other rooms and announced we didn’t have a square corner in any part of the house! All of the improvements I planned would never make it right. Apparently we would have to tear the house down to the foundation and start all over to please him! I wasn’t that picky, so I just told him to finish the job. I wouldn’t hold him accountable for the uneven measurements as long as it looked good.
Of course I have my limits on the quick fix. I’ve never taken the shortcut of painting over sun-rotted or termite-weakened wood. Jesus’ warning about whitewashed tombs has always left a vivid impression on me, even though I know he wasn’t talking about real structures (see Matt. 23:27).
God has blessed us with all kinds of technology, ways to make our lives better. But too often we depend on and almost worship this gift instead of the Giver. I know we humans think we’ve been making improvements along the way, but who are we kidding? We imagine that we’re improving ourselves and our lives, but instead we’re stuck with the same lack of communication with the One who truly matters. Despite our self-confident efforts at achieving that perfect communication, we are no closer to God. All of the online searches for truth still miss out on His message.
I’m sure God has looked at the world and the people He created and wondered how we could keep getting it so wrong. Throughout the Old Testament I read the story of God’s mercy and love over and over. And yet the people kept missing it... missing out. Oh, once in awhile they were connected closely to God, usually when times were desperate and they needed help. But the ongoing relationship never seemed to improve as a whole in spite of all of His interventions.
God knew we didn’t need an improvement, a new coating of paint on the same old problem. We needed to get down to the foundation, the close relationship He once had with us… before sin entered the picture.
It was time to put an end to all of the ways we humans had attempted to make things better. It was time for the “I’m sorry” sacrifices to go away. It was time for a new way to communicate with our God, up close and personal. It was time for the Promise to be fulfilled. It was time for Immanuel… God with us.
The Gospel story of Christ Jesus isn’t the same old story… even though I’ve heard it hundreds of times. It's fresh and new. It completely blows away all of the old misunderstandings between me and my Lord. It puts an end to my struggles to make things better… to get better.
This story of love and grace and peace is really not all that complicated. The original version is easy enough for even a child to understand. And I never have to wait for an upgrade or a new model to come out.
Because it doesn’t need any improvements, It's perfect!
And perfectly joyful!
Leaving my guilt at the cross,